Steve Jobs movie review: a first bite at Apple

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Steve Jobs movie review: a first bite at Apple
Seth Rogen and Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs." (Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures/TNS)
Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) talk before the launch of the iMac in “Steve Jobs.” (Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures/TNS)

By CHELSEA GUO
Contributing Writer

Steve Jobs stands backstage with his mentor and boss John Sculley, right before the launch of the Macintosh computer.

“You’re the only one who sees the world the same way I do,” said Jobs.

Sculley smiled and said, “No one sees the world the same way you do.”

Jobs is notoriously unique in his brash and outspoken manner. Steve Jobs, directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and screenwritten by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) highlights Jobs at his best and at his worst.

Adapted from Walter Issacson’s biography, Steve Jobs is centered around three days: the launch days of the Macintosh, NeXT and iMac in 1984, 1988 and 1998 respectively.

From the very beginning of the movie, Jobs is immediately characterized as a control freak and a bit of a diva over the Macintosh’s failure to say “hello” right before showtime. While no one else seems to think it is significant to the launch, Jobs insists that it must happen.

According to him, Hollywood has portrayed computers as terrifying machines, and the only way to break that stigma is for the Macintosh to give a friendly, human greeting. Jobs seems to see the greeting failing to work as the end of the world, revealing how heavily Jobs stresses user experience and how exceptional he has envisioned the Macintosh to be.

Michael Fassbender is truly a star as the title role. He exudes the aura of Steve Jobs: alpha male, hot-tempered and brilliant. At the same time, Fassbender demonstrates the raw emotion of Jobs as he deals with obstacles while running his company and attempts to mend his strained relationship with his daughter Lisa.

Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’s marketing director and right-hand woman, is played by Kate Winslet. Hoffman represents the backbone of a body where Jobs is the head, constantly supporting his wild genius while simultaneously pushing him to be rational in operating his business and courageous in facing his personal problems.

Katherine Waterston plays Chrisann Brennan, Jobs’s ex-girlfriend and Lisa’s mother. She plays a desperate single mom both disgusted by how Jobs has abandoned her and upset by his reluctance to help. Although she plays a seemingly minor role, Chrisann’s character exposes Jobs’s fatal flaws when it comes to family. Jobs’s daughter Lisa, played by three different actresses for each age, brings out the humanity in his mechanical personality.

Looking at Jobs’s entire life through three days can be difficult for audience members who have little prior knowledge of his history with Apple and his relationship with Chrisann Brennan. In fact, the only scenes besides the three launch days occur as flashbacks from both the present and the past, a possible source of confusion for those unaware of their context.

Although events in Jobs’s life before Apple and at the height of Apple’s success are undeniably significant, this movie fails to include anything outside of the period between 1994 and 1998. This narrow perspective is understandable considering the translation from thick biography to screenplay, but gaps in the progression of his life are nevertheless conspicuous.

Overall, Steve Jobs is a well-expressed memoir of select turning points in Jobs’ life, portraying him as a cold, calculating perfectionist as well as a timid, hopeful father. The movie is a must-see for dedicated fans of Steve Jobs and his work, namely the early creations preceding today’s iPhones and Macbooks. Steve Jobs shows a man who is inherently flawed yet stunningly intelligent–the Steve Jobs who will be remembered centuries from now.

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